Libby Szabo to Chair House Local Government Committee

As part of the continuing fallout from Grand Junction Rep. Laura Bradford’s traffic stop last Wednesday, Arvada Rep. Libby Szabo has moved up a step in the House GOP Caucus, replacing Bradford as chair of the House Local Government Committee.

Despite the fact that chairmanship of the Local Government Committee isn’t glamorous, it’s an important distinction that Szabo will be able to make on mail pieces as she campaigns for re-election this year. Chairmanship of any committee, particularly as a freshman, is an important mark of “leadership” that a candidate is able to point to. “Local Government” is also a term that most voters can understand, and we wouldn’t be surprised if Szabo tries to make the point that she’s streamlining government as a whole from her perch as chair.

Framing aside, Szabo’s new role in the House is also going to make Tim Allport’s already-uphill battle that much steeper. Although Szabo will lose the chairmanship if Republicans lose the House, lobbyists, particularly the vast number concerned with local government – think mass transit, land use, and city planning – have an incentive to keep Szabo in the House. Allport’s ability to raise money from lobbyists, then, has been crippled: nobody’s going to donate to Tim’s campaign knowing full well how much it will upset Szabo, and more importantly, Szabo’s gavel.

Unless Allport can decisively prove he’s got the chops to beat Szabo, he’s going to have a difficult time pulling in donors. Without donors, he’s going to have a tough time proving he can take down an incumbent Republican in a district where Republicans have an 8% registration advantage.

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